UnitedHealthcare — one of the nation's largest health insurers — has announced that it will preserve a provision of the health care law that allows young adults to stay on their family health care plans up to age 26, even if the high court rules the law unconstitutional later this month.
The measure is one of several so-called "Patients' Bill of Rights" included in the law that UnitedHealthcare will keep in place. The company will also continue offering preventive health care services without out-of-pocket costs and end lifetime limits on insurance payouts:
"The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people's health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs," Stephen J. Hemsley, president and chief executive of UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement. "These provisions are compatible with our mission and continue our operating practices." [...]
A spokesman at UnitedHealthcare said officials chose to announce their intentions now because "people in this uncertain time are worried about what might happen to their coverage and we think the time is right to let people know that these provisions will continue and they can count on us."
The announcement applies to the roughly 9 million consumers in plans that they or their employer have purchased from UnitedHealthcare.
So far, 6.6 million young adults between 19 and 25 years old have signed up for insurance coverage through their parents' policies. It's a popular provision that even Republicans, such as Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (FL), support. During an appearance on Fox News Monday morning, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) — one of the staunchest opponents of the law — also defended the insurer's decision, noting, "to allow them to stay on that family plan, just helps the family until that person goes to school [and is] established in life."
The growing bipartisan support for some provisions of the law will complicate the GOP's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, particularly as Americans start to benefit from it. The measure expands access to health insurance for millions of Americans, and UnitedHealthcare's decision to continue at least some of its provisions means that Obamacare has already changed the health care system — no matter what the Supreme Court decides.